The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

BGE Cookbook - iBooks Version - Review

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I am so Eggcited because this morning I stumbled onto the fact that the Big Green Egg Cookbook is available in an iBooks version usable on Mac OSX or iOS devices. So what you say, it is available in a Kindle version too, for less money. This I know and I even wrote a blog entry about it: BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 13 - BIG GREEN EGG COOKBOOK. While I very much liked the $9.95 price and knew you must give up something when you pay $9.95 for a book that lists at $50.00 and can be found for about $30.00 online as a physical book. While I had other books in the Kindle format, this was my first cookbook in Kindle format. I never realized the sacrifices in navigation you made. The other eBooks I’ve bought are read from front to back, from start to finish. A cookbook is rarely used this way. Instead you jump around the book quite a bit. Today I found, quite by accident, that there was an iBooks version of it for $19.95. It basically eliminates all of my navigational complaints about the Kindle version, adds in some navigational features that make it easier than a physical book and has all of the great pictures and beautiful layout of the physical book. It is wonderful to have this kind of choice. I am not going to repeat my earlier blog’s review of this as a cookbook full of recipes. This review will talk about the differences between the iBook, Kindle & physical book version. If you are interested in buying the cookbook, I suggest you follow the link above to read the other entry.


The iBooks version of the BGE Cookbook reproduces the look of the page in the physical book & is more pleasing to the eye on a larger screen.


The most important thing for me was all of the cross references were hyperlinks taking you straight to the cross-linked item, unlike the Kindle version.

I was Google searching for a BGE related video I’d heard about that was hosted on a video site that wasn’t YouTube. The person who told me about it said just Google in and it would turn up/ On the first page of search results was a listing for an iBooks version of the
BGE Cookbook. I figured this had to be a mistake, because I didn’t turn this up in my original search for the BGE Cookbook. But the url was to the Apple site for iBooks. I followed the link and found the iBook version sold for $19.99. I was now intrigued, what exactly did I get for $19.95? All of the pictures and formatting of the physical book? Yes! Physical page numbers I could use to move around the book? Yes!! Extensive hyperlinks in addition to consistent physical page numbers. A BIG YES!!! Apple has a sample chapter you can download which I wasted no time doing. I could see right away they had reproduced the book in its original physical form with the layout, fonts & photos intact. Speaking of photos, the physical book has just spectacular food photos which look like one photo probably took a crew hours if not a whole day to reproduce. They are stunning and this is something you give up in the Kindle version. You get some of the photos, but not all and they are at a usable but not super sharp resolution. At the $9.99 price point this was something I was prepared to give up without any complaints. The photos in the iBook version are equally stunning compared to the physical book and seem to take full advantage of Apple’s high resolution Retina Display.



With no hyperlinked cross references in the Kindle version, it makes getting around a royal pain. I a recipe calls mentions Buttermilk Biscuits here is one way you must use. First go to the menu bar down and bring up the pop over menu with navigation links. Click on table of contents. (top left) The next step assumes you know the charter the recipe is found in. So for biscuits you go to the Baked Goods Link in the Table of Contents. (top right) On the first page of the Baked Goods chapter look for the Buttermilk Biscuits link and click on it. (lower left) This final brings you to your recipe after 4 steps. (bottom right) This vs a 1-click hyperlink in the iBooks version.

What I was not prepared to give up was ease of navigation. In my mind an eBook may give up some aesthetic features compared to a physical book. But it should never be harder to navigate than a physical book. The Kindle version was a HUGE surprise and disappointment in this regard. First of all the Kindle book has no physical page numbers because in that format page numbers are a variable. Depending on the font size you use and whether your reading device is oriented horizontally or vertically the pages reflow to suit the formatting options you are using. This is all well and good and isn’t necessarily a problem in and of itself. In a regular book like a novel you are rarely even aware of this. However a cookbook (and other reference books) often have a slew of cross references. The
BGE COOKBOOK is no exception. The are many recipes that say: “If you like this recipe, also try Recipe X on page Y.” Well since the Kindle version has no pagination there is no “Page Y” to refer to. This isn’t a problem in and of itself because it could be solved simply by providing a clickable hyperlink to “Recipe X”. This is where the Kindle version completely FAILS. I don’t know why they don’t furnish cross reference hyperlinks but they didn’t. It is not a limitation of the Kindle format, since the Table of Contents is completely hyperlinked. I have a feeling this was done to keep the price down. But it makes the book border on unusable at times and I would have gladly paid say $15.95 to get a version that has all cross references and referrals fully hyperlinked. The only thing that saved me from giving up on this totally was you can add your own bookmarks. But as you are forced to add more and more bookmarks, these become cumbersome to navigate too.



The same two pages from the Kindle Version (top) & the iBooks version (bottom) The Kindle version makes no attempt to preserve the original layout & pagination, whereas the iBook version attempts to recreate the experience of reading the physical book. The biggest & most important difference between the two in my opinion, is the extensive hyperlinking used for navigation in the iBook version. The Kindle version is a bit easier to read, but on a big screen a simple pinch & zoom solves that.

While I’d pay $15.95 to get a fully hyperlinked version, I was even happier to pay $19.99 for a version that is fully hyperlinked plus has all of the beautiful formatting and photos. The navigational experience of this book on the Kindle when trying to follow cross references is abysmal. If you get a “You might also like Recipe X on Page Y” It can be very frustrating. There are no page numbers to use. There is no index to go to. There is a search but the problem with the search is that same: “You might also like Recipe X on Page Y” can appear in 20 other recipes. So searching for “Recipe X” may turn up 21 results. There will be 20 instances of the cross reference and 1 instance of the actual recipe. Meanwhile the search results are little 3 line snippets of the text around the search term. It is often impossible to tell from this snippet whether it is the recipe or cross references to the recipe. You end up using trial and error until you stumble onto the right search result. The other way to do it is go back to the table of contents. But only if you know which chapter “Recipe X” is in. Only the main chapters are listed. You must go to the Table of Contents page, click on the proper chapter which takes you to the first page for that chapter and find and click on the “Recipe X” name which takes you to the recipe. You are making a total of 4 different clicks and scrolling through text to make these 4 clicks. With the iBooks version you are clicking on the original “Recipe X” in the cross reference. One click and you are there.


The iBooks version of the BGE Cookbook adds paginated page thumbnails as an additional navigation.


The iBooks version also has a scrollable thumbnails navigation bar at the bottom of the page. Both items can’t exist in the Kindle version because pages are relative and change based on text size & device orientation & screen size.

The iBooks version of this cookbook has several other navigation aids the make navigating easier. The first is you can click a button in the iBooks menu bar and it brings up a screen full of two-page page thumbnails for the pages of the for the particular chapter you are in. You can scroll this list and get into other areas in the book. There is also a little thumbnail bar running along the bottom of the page. The page you are currently viewing is larger and you can scroll this list left or right to get to other areas of the book. Both navigation aids are quite useful on an iPad and bordering on too small on the iPhone. But the bottom line here is navigating around this book on an iPad is easier than getting around in the physical book. This is as it should be. Reading the book page by page is easier but not as pretty on the Kindle. The Kindle version is not trying to recreate the identical viewing experience on the screen. It is not trying to recreate the exact version of the page. It is trying to fill your screen with readable text and possibly a photo too. The iBooks version is recreating the exact appearance of the page on screen and is presenting you with a single page or facing pages on screen. This means the smaller your screen, the more navigation you will be doing on a single page to pinch & zoom the text to a readable size.


Things are a bit different on the iPhone versions of the cookbook. Because the iBooks version reproduces the entire page there is far more navigation involved to read a recipe. When you open up a page it is way to small. (left) You must pinch and zoom to make the page viewable. (right). I am sure this would get real old real fast if the iPhone is the only device you use this cookbook on.


The Kindle version, while having all of the before mentioned navigational annoyances is far easier to read on a small screen like the iPhone. If you only own the iPhone sadly the Kindle version may be the way to go-even with the navigational annoyances.

Which Version Should I Buy? Here is my take on which electronic version of the BGE Cookbook you should buy based on which Mac OSX or iOS device(s) you own. Once again I’d recommend reading my previous blog: BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 13 - BIG GREEN EGG COOKBOOK. It covers the plusses and minuses of this book as a pure cookbook, which I don’t do here.

iPhone Only:
If the iPhone is the only device you will be viewing this cookbook on, then I’d actually say the Kindle version would be easier to use. The iBook version would require almost too much pinching and zooming to read the recipes. So much so that it trumps the poor hyperlinking found in the iBook version.

iPhone and iPad or iPhone and Mac OSX computer:
iBooks version assuming this is your use case: You use the iPad or Mac OSX computer day to day to use the cookbook. You only use the iPhone occasionally, say at the supermarket to pull up a recipe to double check the ingredients for a recipe. The better visual appearance and the extensive hyperlinking iBooks version trump the ease of reading of the Kindle version. While the Kindle version is easier to use on the iPhone, it is not very different on the iPad or a Mac OSX computer. The large screen of these devices make the better visual performance of the iBook version readily apparent. I can’t say enough about the ease of navigation of the iBooks version.

iPad only or Mac OSX computer only:
If you have only one device and it is an iPad or Mac OSX computer, there is no decision. Get the iBooks version. If you are tempted to be “frugal” and save the $10 difference between the two-DON’T. You will soon be totally frustrated trying to find your way around the Kindle version. You will wished you had listened to my advice. As for the iPad Mini, I can’t say. I would think the iBook version would be the way to go. If someone wants to buy me an iPad Mini I would be happy to report back on my findings.


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